Made in the Shade – outdoor living options for shade

Expand your outdoor living options with an awning, roof extension, pergola, gazebo, or pavilion.

With spring and warmer weather in full force, you want to venture more regularly beyond your back door and bask in the splendor of Mother Nature on your patio or deck. The catch? The sun can get awfully bright and hot, and it’s no fun being exposed to rain or other unwanted elements.


The solution? Take shelter under a protective partial enclosure such as an awning, patio roof, pergola, gazebo, or pavilion, which can significantly expand your outdoor living possibilities and make your home more amenable to alfresco relaxing and entertaining.

Outdoor living spaces are a great way to add value to your home and expand its livable areas without having to undergo an exorbitantly expensive or intrusive renovation. Not only that, but you don’t need to heat or cool this new space, which saves on power bills and your carbon footprint. Plus, an awning, overhang, or other sheltering structure near the rear of your home may help regulate your house’s temperature by shielding it from the sun while also increasing the aesthetic appeal of your patio, deck, or yard.

Anyone who is looking to spend more time in their yard, especially those seeking to host more guests and visitors after the pandemic subsides, would be a good candidate to invest in a permanent outdoor structure.

Which one is right for you? That depends on your needs, budget, and available space.

An awning, commonly made of a cotton, acrylic, polyester yarn, or vinyl canvas stretched over a rigid frame that hangs and angles down from the side of your house, can be an affordable option, typically ranging from as low as $1,400 installed.

Most of the time you see awnings over a dining space, but they can also be used for a seating pit. They are a great option when you’re right against the house or have a deck parallel to the house since they have to be mounted on your home’s exterior.

Alternatively, ponder a roof extension (also called a patio roof), which also attaches to your home’s exterior and hangs down on an angle but features a much more sturdy and solid wooden frame and a proper shingled roof supported by posts. Expect to pay $6,000 and up, depending on size.

If you don’t want a structure attached to your home, consider a wood, metal, PVC, or composite pergola, comprised of four vertical posts that support a lattice of cross-beams that can be covered with a tarp or temporary shade, left uncovered, or used to grow roses or vines.

A standard pergola with limited shade and no weather protection remains the most popular vertical feature in yards, you will likely spend $5,000 and up for a pergola.

Instead, add a freestanding gazebo – a square, rectangular, hexagonal, or octagonal-shaped structure with four to eight pillars, a solid roof, and open sides surrounding it. These can be built over wood decking, on a concrete pad, or over a flat stretch of grass. Gazebo costs, including labor and materials, range from about $3,400 to $9,600, per HomeAdvisor.

When considering a gazebo or other wood structure, think about its long-term maintenance – especially ones built from wood.  These should be properly weatherproofed initially and throughout their lifetime, especially in humid. A high-quality oil stain will last around 5 to 7 years before needing to be reapplied, but will keep the wood rich and beautiful while protecting it from the elements.

Your next step up is a rectangular-shaped pavilion, which is similar to a gazebo but usually larger and boasting more structural support in the roof.

Typically, a full pavilion features a standard covered roof, is freestanding with four legs, and requires more materials and labor. A large pavilion can run $20,000 and up, including installation.

As with any home improvement project, it’s important to do your homework, learn if your municipality will allow it, and research outdoor structure products and installation professionals thoroughly.

Materials and quality craftsmanship are a crucial factor. Look for a product that is well-built with a good track record of customer reviews as well as a qualified installer who can handle any permitting or local code concerns on your behalf.